Reading involves the orchestration of a number of different cueing systems in a coordinated and fluent manner to access meaning from print. Reading has been compared to the performance of a symphony orchestra – it is a holistic act, a lifelong endeavour requiring practice, and there may be more than one interpretation of the text. Although reading can be broken down into sub-skills such as discriminating letters or identifying words, performing the sub-skills one at a time does not constitute reading. Reading takes place only when the parts are put together in a smooth, integrated performance.
Twelve Reading Strategies form the basis of classroom reading programs. These twelve Reading Strategies are what good readers use when they try to understand a reading selection, whether they are five or fifty-five. In order to comprehend the text, readers use most, if not all of these strategies. Students need to become proficient with all twelve Reading Strategies.
Reading Strategy 1: “Access background information.”
Good readers call forward and integrate information, including language and print conventions and prior experience. This enables them to make meaning and build upon what they already know in relation to the text. It also aids the recognition of words which may only be in their oral vocabulary.
Reading Strategy 2: “Predict what will be learned or what will happen.”
Good readers use the title and cover of the text, picture clues inside the text and background knowledge to predict what will happen. As they read, students will confirm or discard predictions and continue to make new ones.
Reading Strategy 3: “Figure out unknown words.”
Good readers become aware of and use language concepts in order to improve fluency and comprehension.
Reading Strategy 4: “Self-monitor and self-correct.”
Good readers monitor their understanding of a text while reading. Using picture clues, sound-symbol relationships and context, they confirm their predictions and question anything that doesn’t look right, doesn’t sound right, or doesn’t make sense. Students then apply strategies such as read-on or read-back to self-correct.
Reading Strategy 5: “Make mental pictures.”
Good readers use the author’s words and their own experiences to make pictures in their minds of a scene as they read, making associations with previous information to expand their understanding.
Reading Strategy 6: “Connect what you read with what you already know.”
Good readers make connections between their experiences and the text, comparing and contrasting characters, ideas and events.
Reading Strategy 7: “Determine the most important ideas and events and the relationship between them.”
Good readers analyze the text to differentiate between important ideas and events and supporting details. In later primary, they are able to describe relationships between these ideas and justify them.
Reading Strategy 8: “Extract information from text, charts, graphs, maps and illustrations.”
Good readers can locate information in text. They extract the facts to answer questions. They also become familiar with the formats of specialized tools such as charts, graphs, columns, legends, headings, sidebars and scales. They learn the specific organizational rules for each and know how to locate and read the information accurately.
Reading Strategy 9: “Identify and interpret literary elements in different genres.”
Good readers identify elements of setting, plot and characterization in a text. They can describe where and when the story takes place, retell the plot, recognize the problem, and identify character traits.
Reading Strategy 10: “Summarize what has been read.”
Good readers restate the gist of the text in their own words.
Reading Strategy 11: “Make inferences and draw conclusions.”
Good readers read between the lines, constantly making inferences and expanding their understanding. They use the information in the text to figure out the message.
Reading Strategy 12: “Reflect and respond.”
Good readers think about what they have read. They may relate their thoughts to their own experiences or emotions, expressing their opinions and justifying their point of view where appropriate. They are willing to modify and extend their thinking when exposed to other ideas, constantly cross-checking and refining their interpretations as they read.